André Frédéric Cournand
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1956
Born: 24 September 1895, Paris, France
Died: 19 February 1988, Great Barrington, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Columbia University Division, Cardio-Pulmonary Laboratory, Bellevue Hospital, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning heart catheterization and pathological changes in the circulatory system."
Prize share: 1/3
André Cournand was born in Paris. His father was a doctor, and André studied natural science and medicine in Paris. After becoming a medical doctor, he made his way to the U.S. in 1930 to spend a year at Bellevue Hospital and Columbia University in New York. There he began a prolonged collaboration with Dickinson Richards and decided to stay in the U.S. André Cournand married Sibylle Blumer, who was a widow, and adopted her son. The couple had three more children.
Even though Werner Forssmann succeeded in inserting a catheter into his own heart in 1929, there was great hesitance about continuing this type of research. Nonetheless, beginning in 1941 André Cournand and Dickinson Richards published a series of studies that established use of cardiac catheterization, among other things, to introduce contrast fluid for X-ray images and to measure pressure and oxygen content. Because it was possible to reach the upper chambers of the heart, blood pressure and the blood's oxygen content could be measured on the way from the heart to the lungs, which was impossible before.